Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Present Company Accepted!

I've heard various descriptors with regard to being alone at Christmas one suggested that it is "sad" another went so far as to say it was "pathetic!" Of course I wouldn't go so far as to hold any one person responsible for the creation of such notions, as their origins are far more widespread across the belief systems of the collective. I am not given to necessarily accepting such dictates of social convention as being true, in fact, I'm more inclined to ask "who says" and then to throw these hypothesis against the wall of my own life and see what sticks. Why you ask? Have you ever arrived somewhere for an activity which involves entering the front door and there is a group of people all standing around outside the door? Upon asking why everyone is outside the answer is "I guess the door must be locked." When you either reply "has anyone checked it?" or investigate for yourself, and discover it unlocked, the consensus is revealed that everyone that approached saw the others standing outside and "presumed" that they must be outside because someone tried the door and found it locked. The reality is no one checked and everyone is waiting for the already unlocked door to be opened so they can go in because of this presumption. This is a rather benign example but I would submit that it is an apt metaphor to demonstrate what occurs if someone doesn't question popularly held erroneous assumptions - nobody benefits!

So as it happens I indeed find myself "alone" this Christmas - this being the evening of December 24th. When I consider this overall I suppose this is both the first time ever and not without opportunity to have it go otherwise. While there are some unchangeable realities about this Christmas such as both my parents passing away this year (my dad only 3 weeks ago) there have been various invitations that could alleviate the need to be alone, but I'm not sure that I will participate.

Part of this would be because I am honouring my need to grieve the loss of my parents which in itself is a significant transition. As it happens my whole life has been up for reexamination and revision and expansion anyway, the current reality just seems to have turned it from simmer to a high boil. So I hesitate to embroil myself in to many "social" commitments partly because I might well not feel like being there once I'm in it. But also, as I said, anything can and much is, undergoing extensive scrutiny and Christmas is no exception. Around the edges of some intermittent sadness there is the realization I am largely free from most everything that I hear so many being so stressed out about.

While "spiritual" and personal expansion will eventually include such things as personal finances etc. this has been a year which recognizes immense spiritual wealth while at the same time has been cash flow challenged. I can tell you, one can claim to not be "defined by their work" or bank account etc. but a more accurate portrayal will be, when those things are gone (even if temporarily). So Christmas would have been low-keyed anyway. Had my dad stuck around - and given he had no interest in anything he already had, it was like overnight the "dementia" relieved him of any further concern for literally a whole house full of stuff that not that long previously he was pretty heavily invested in. I've got to say from the standpoint of one who considers himself viable and for the most part lucid, I had to ask, what was the point of all the concern for consumption and accumulation? The stress, the overwhelm, the cost - though certainly there can be found no end of verification that continues to assert this is "what it's all about" - it most #$%& certainly is not!! It took nearly two months to empty that house out and not one single solitary item did my dad want with him - it was like overnight he was the Dalai Llama and completely let go of attachment to any of it. It was actually an amazing thing to witness - meanwhile I at times deliberate at length, over various items in my home, as I continue my own process of simplifying, granted I haven't been given my "ticket to ride" but just the same I wonder, how important is all this shit anyway?

So I'm not necessarily feeling compelled to rush and recreate Christmas the way it seems to so frequently be observed. Thus far I'd have to say any sadness I am experiencing isn't exclusively due to being alone. And I certainly don't consider the situation pathetic, it is actually replete with many blessings.  I would suggest that someone that would consider it "pathetic" to be on their own, doesn't have much regard for their own company. I have no intentions of "isolating" or becoming a hermit, just the same, I am fully embracing that I am free of any obligatory anything, with regard to it being the Christmas season.

From where I stand new traditions are calling for themselves to be brought into being. It may well be that the new tradition will be, no tradition - certainly that will be true this year. I will continue to rebuild from a place of consciousness, to ask questions of myself with regard to previously held-assumptions. It is clear to me that just because many people are behaving a certain way or hold something to be true, does not make it so!

I am deeply appreciative of everything I have - it is not a question of whether I have enough, it is that I am enough, this realization is gift a plenty which cannot be touched no matter what comes and goes from my life -  this year it so happens that includes the "ghosts of Christmas past" This year's gift is the present and new beginnings - priceless really!

Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

For All Things a Season

I do not grieve
what you know I've lost
I walk eyes within heart
Training awakened sensitivity
Upon threads you cannot see
Which I had deemed forbidden
Or unspeakable, even to me

What then must die that I live completely?
Did you imagine that freedom
Achieved walking through the enshadowed valley
Would be a painless renewal?

A reflective nod to your tinsel clad holiday
An approaching darkened Solstice
Invites a sacred introspection
Though I will not deny you - your cup of cheer
Neither can I desecrate upon my heart's threshold
Which even now prepares to offer
A soul sought illumination

Will this then happen
Within the 12 days of song and lore?
I think rather
The light is encoded within the darkness
The gift
Will then dispense
Both cloak & shroud
When the season calls it hence!

Friday, 5 December 2014

My Current Theory of "Relativity"

If I have occasion to relate to you - doesn't that in effect make you a relative of mine? If indeed we collectively are relative members of the human race then what is all this fuss about parental lineage, perceived birth right, entitlement to such things as a particular patch of real estate - which can be further emphasized if the individual staking "their claim"if there exists a multi-generational inhabitance of said "turf." How can that even be conceived to make sense where relating to others is concerned? Because you and/or your family has never moved to take residence elsewhere doesn't actually give you any particular status - in "relation" to anyone else.

The whole notion of hierarchy, inequality, inclusion/exclusion  seems so unnecessary to me. Though I suppose in the grand scheme of things, where the evolution of the human species is concerned it must be, as it continues to occur. Humanity, in terms of creation overall, would be very difficult to depict with any sort of graphic representation, as it would be so miniscule. Therefore in terms of it's overall evolution perhaps humanity is still in it's infancy. I certainly recognize that there are innumerable examples in my own life that I might have deemed "bad" "wrong" etc. but in the subsequent unfolding of my life it has always been overwhelmingly positive. I have I suppose in truth chosen, in many further examples, to do the same thing over and over until at some point I become compelled to see if something else is possible in my life.  So then, not that I can state it categorically but I could submit, would it be any different for the whole of humanity?

It would seem we as humans must jump in where various aspects of co-existing, living (individually and collectively) are concerned - somewhere.  Though what certainly appears to be intense suffering and consequences resulting from a particular approach might occur to be quite obvious it doesn't necessarily invoke immediate evolution, neither personally nor collectively.

If humanity is evolving collectively - I suppose, though I am responsible for participating in my own evolution, I would not know what part it plays in the mosaic overall, nor what effect the collective evolution in consciousness is having on me - should I become overly concerned with trying to take all the credit.

Blood lines certainly don't ensure smooth relating - the approaching Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice season will attest to that. There will be no shortage of "families" getting well and significantly inebriated in order to spend time with each other. The irony of inducing such utter disconnection with oneself in order to "connect" with others is most certainly indicative of a tradition fraught with flawed premise. I'm not casting negative judgment on this given I have participated in it - until I wasn't - it just is a brilliant illustration of point.

As of this year there is no longer any immediate family in my locale - so holidays or not, I won't be relating directly with "family." Having said that, if there were to continue to be varying degrees of "unfinished business" I could then simply bring into my "movie" any number of stand-ins and continue to be in relation to those that are no longer even "here."

I've got to say I still "Imagine" as did John Lennon what it would be like to eliminate all forms of delineation, categorizing and labeling in human relating. It seems to me even if one wanted to uphold the virtue of pride in ancestry/origins etc. it's a fine line frequently leading to a slippery slope which is used as justification to oppress and/or make any that "aren't like us." Naturally this begins for me with an examination of where and when do I continue to exclude others based on what I have quite arbitrarily decided is an acceptable way to conduct themselves. On the other hand having been adopted I have spent much of my life not having a clear-cut sense of ancestry etc. though that in itself has been part of what comprised "the sand in my oyster" I've also related through out most of my life without the orientation of "origins" etc. Now even though I have come to know more of that "history" I nearly simultaneously have concluded at some level it doesn't really matter - particularly if I use it as cause to dismiss others.

Certainly my own evolutionary trajectory has expanded my knowing of the interdependence and connectivity of the entire human family as well as all life forms. I would submit that may have come as a result of my version of the perception, that I was completely and absolutely separate and disconnected from everything and everybody - it was my own personal hell. Again if the insight gained from my own life were to be superimposed upon the collective and hold equally true, then the ramifications on the world stage might have a plausible explanation or at least a facet there of. My personal "awakening" apparently wouldn't happen a minute before it did. Whether there was a pre-determined schedule I couldn't begin to tell you. But I suppose that human evolution will driven by the same sort of reckoning with extended suffering and come to recognize in the need to be willing to explore and embrace radical possibility as a way of relating - whether friends, family, within nations or internationally.

Perhaps relating must become increasingly based on the basis that we are all related rather than from the perspective that it's "all relative!"

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Nothing is As It Seems

As those of you that have followed this blog in the past know, it doesn't necessarily follow any sequential or chronological order. That I hope, will be a useful reminder to some and and explanation for others regarding the seeming random nature.

I will begin by saying over the last month I have begun "casual employment" as what the organization calls an "Outreach worker"this takes place at what is a drop in center for low income and homeless folks and takes the form of an emergency "extreme weather" shelter. There are spaces (mats) for 30 people to sleep on one floor and a "drop in center" on another floor where hot drinks and snacks are available for those that want to come in from the cold. A certain weather (criteria) must occur in order for the shelter to be called into effect.

Since beginning there I have encountered resistance to authority, self esteem issues (self contempt, self-punishing, self-sabotaging), martyrdom, victim consciousness and scarcity/lack thinking and once I got over my expanded self-awareness, then there was the meeting of the clientele and some glimmers of insight into what they deal with on a daily basis.

I have found that being in this environment has triggered me in a variety of ways. Some of this has it's origins in my relationship with both parents - however on this occasion I will focus on my father. I have no intention of waxing endlessly, fixated on the all to familiar orientation of "blaming" my parents for my life. I will say that many beliefs I created about myself (in relation to them) have carried through a myriad of relationships for much of my life - awaiting me to resolve and heal them. Having said that, in itself, that is ample motivation to gain freedom.

It was just last week when I was participating in a men's circle that I was discussing and processing for myself within the group what would be feelings and things left "unspoken" that date back quite some considerable time. The point being, unexpressed does not mean gone. Everything, that is meant literally is energy, including these repressed feelings and below that the mistaken beliefs that are at their roots. The problem is that one can be subject to one set of "rules" and conditioning in their family as well social conditioning, political correctness and even many groups that fancy themselves "spiritual" would have one believe that some things ought not be said. That above all else there must be forgiveness and gratitude for all "the good." I'm not disputing this, but I am saying that it is necessary to beware of the "spiritual bypass." This is where one uses spirituality as an alibi (cover story) for continued denial and repression and skips right past their true feelings and feigns forgiveness and gratitude. You may have heard "fake it until you make it." The problem with this is that it lacks in honesty and authenticity. My experience is that in order for "the truth to set me free," I need to first become aware of the truth and then be will to feel the feelings, express them and be willing to release them (along with any mistaken unconscious beliefs I might have).

So within this group I just let it rip - no longer concerned for how I'll look or what others might judge about me - I give voice to that which has laid dormant and unsaid. As I said earlier this is not for the purpose of blame and I'm certainly not advocating staying stuck in these feelings. But in order to truly forgive it is necessary to express all that is there. Forgiveness to me means that even if I remember I will no longer have any sort of energetic charge associated with these live "events." I don't mean the variety of forgetting such as "what the hell was the PIN #or password - it means completion - and there are no short cuts to completion. So in this moment it was about expressing some anger that I had repressed for a variety of reasons not the least of which was "self-preservation." The family system I came from seemed to have provisions for the "adults" to get angry - but that dynamic was not extended to the children. Then there was multiple layers of "shoulds" as in "I should be grateful for the "stable" home and opportunities I was given. All true to a point, but not necessarily justification to disallow the authentic expression of feelings. After all wouldn't "stability" allow for authenticity? No question that it is truly a gift to be witnessed and accepted - I would say it matters not that the specific players are there to witness said expression, it is more important that it occur. This in turn moves one towards completion.

Less than a week later - I had intended to visit my dad in the acute care hospital where he had been transferred from extended care. I held off going initially as I was getting over a head cold (and perhaps in hindsight - needed to be more spiritually fit for the visit).

I was down town on my bike having completed a few errands before going to the hospital when I heard some music from down the block.

I rode closer to investigate - there was something familiar about the tones of the various instruments (beyond the well-worn melodies of various Christmas songs). As I got closer I could see it was five members of the military band - helping to raise money for the Salvation Army. I suspected seeing their uniforms that I knew the band they represented (it was the Naden Band) which my dad had been a member for thirty years. All of them were playing saxophones (alto, tenor, baritone etc.) - the saxophone being one of the instruments my dad played when he was actively performing with the band. I was touched and moved deeply as I remembered all the performances I attended as a young boy and listening to my dad practice saxophone around the house. It was also interesting to note (pun intended) that through various circumstances I have accessed various services through the Salvation Army - they have most certainly been a blessing in my life of late.

Upon confirming this was indeed members of the Naden Band I thanked the "base commander" in attendance - told him of my connection and family association with the band and about being on my way to the hospital to see my dad (one of their former members). I gave generously as the grace of their recent support and the divine order of this pre-hospital visit "coincidence" opened my heart beyond previously held limitations.

As it turned out when I arrived at the ward the "attending physician" invited me to have a conversation with respect to the "care plan." It is to be comfort measures from here forward for my dad - I suppose you could say in a somewhat different context, it is the same for me.

It is most appropriate that a further healing in the relationship between my dad and I (which is really to say - my relationship with myself) was ushered in via music. Often angels are depicted playing harps - who is to say that they couldn't or don't play saxophones?!!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Wait for It!

How then to extract the extraordinary
Contained within what might be considered mundane
If one were to allow themselves
To be lulled into believing
That while in the embrace of the ordinary
That sleep was the desired outcome
For subtly but surely
Magnificence is being forged
Ready to stake it’s claim
In what many would be quick to presume
Was the witnessing,
Of an “overnight success”
Dismissed as a “flash in the pan”
Little did they know
The energy, attention and focus
To light the fuse.

Down But Not Out

Upon commencement of this post I have no idea where it's going, no outline, no theme. I suppose it could be described as a metaphor for the idea which I'm being "encouraged" to adopt - "Embrace the Mystery"- in this moment I would say of that, Fuck I hate that idea!!!!!

Having said that there is not much different about my "process" - there never actually is a structure, which might well be painfully obvious to some and revealing that, a kin to a magician sharing the secret to his illusions, that would presume what I create is in anyway seen as magic and that I the writer, or you the reader are operating under some illusion. If you're expecting me to address that with some form of explanation, forget it, it's part of the mystery. I'm embracing it and therefore, I don't know.

Now, I did have a thought/observation that prompted me to think I'm going to write. At first I thought that meant to write "about it" now I'm going to say "into it." Is there a difference - "I don't know!" Who am I to say, I'm just the piano player attempting to give the music a voice.

As I was walking downtown today, round about an area of town that is punctuated with various gathering places,  a social assistance office, multiple churches which at times double as "extreme weather shelters" food banks and soup kitchens, I was struck by a gesture of acknowledgement that came often enough that it both got my attention and led me to suspect it's not random.

It could be described as perhaps the anatomical equivalent to a tipping of the hat, a quick nod of the head in passing. But what does it mean? This is not a fear response - rather a curiosity. It occurs to me this might be "expected" where there is some familiarity, albeit a rather limited expression. The thing is I don't "know" these individuals nor they I.

In a more protracted version of it there is bowing in far eastern cultures as a form of respect, there are head and accompanying hand gestures along with "Namaste" to acknowledge ("the light of Spirit within me acknowledges the light of Spirit within you") and even full body prostrations.

If this weren't so frequent or was a one off thing - I might conclude mistaken recognition like when waving to someone in a car that is waving at someone else or a "I could have sworn it was ............" scenario, instead perhaps it was their evil twin; but this happens quite frequently, not just today.

It's interesting to me that the segment of the population this involves, may frequent and use some of these places for their between religious services services, and though they might not be part of the "congregation," many may practice a facet of spirituality (even if they wouldn't consciously admit it) that would be the envy of many of the congregants if they even knew it existed, or weren't so intent on judging it's practitioners. This is not meant to be a reverse stigmatization, it's just part of my continued observation and to be clear, it's not from the outside looking in or from above looking down the bridge of my ample nose - I'm accessing some of these same "services" myself.

They say "their are no atheists in foxholes" or apparently they did when that form of warfare was in style - I'm sure there's got to be some twenty-first century equivalent that reflects the advancement of technology for waging war, but hasn't changed the fact that somebody/s going to fucking die here - when? I don't know, but it's could be any moment. There's an immediacy to that I'm suggesting and while it's technically true for any of us, in general terms, I don't think many in this part of the world spend much time considering the likelihood of it for themselves or like some on the streets, wishing for the respite of it. Having said that in this segment of the community known to some as "the visibly poor" there exists a spirit of community, fellowship, generosity and yes spirituality that one might be hard-pressed to find in a "gated-community." I qualify that by saying that of course there are generous people in these bastions of affluence - and I can't speak with any absolute experiential authority as I haven't been a resident or visitor in many such communities. I would pose the question, what's with the gate? Though frequently ornate - I never seen one that is embossed with a "welcome" sign. Maybe this is the same mindset that when conceiving of "Heaven" as though it were a geographical location - and guess what? They put a friggin' gate there too! Albeit "Pearly" the great big friggin' oxymoron in the sky! Heaven has a gate!

"Wow would ya look at those gates, those have got to be the most beautiful gates I've ever seen - what 'cha got behind those gates?"

"Why that's heaven!!!!!"

"I'd love to go an' have a look around in there - bet it's really something!!!!

"Yes indeed it is - but well...... I hate to be the one to break it to ya, but those gates are there for a reason and not just anyone can go in there!"

Take it from some one that has built so many walls around my heart those structure are not created with the idea of letting anything or anybody "IN!!!!!!!"

Cue the credits - Satirical Theology 101

My but I have digressed - there should be some structure here, is there a point to this? Of course, it's held within the mystery!! There just happens to be considerable real estate between here and there (the point).

So back to this collective assortment of individuals and their "nodding acquaintance" - despite none  existing, at least as in, prior knowing or association with each other. Is is possible that they are recognizing something that goes beyond "facial recognition." I mentioned the immediacy of those in war zones - many of the people I encounter in this particular part of the city had "war zones" for home environments and then lived various manifestations of this post-traumatic energy in subsequent circumstances that often weren't any less violent, demoralizing or traumatic, but they are still getting up and facing the day whatever that entails, which to me demonstrates a great resilience of human spirit and will to carry on. I have met many different individuals that are deeply spiritual people despite being the West Coast North American version of the "untouchables." Not everything is as it seems and many people are able to see, to perceive, that which "the majority" of others don't. Not necessarily because they lack the capabilities, but because they haven't cared to make it any priority to develop them. I believe that those living day to day on or close to the "streets," with life and death being a more present reality, may not have entirely renounced the material world, but in many cases may have a far more intimate connection with the world of spirit. Sadly instead of being embraced for their insight and guidance many of these folks are ostracized and seen as delusional, psychotic, drug addled miscreants.

As my full time pursuit of "inner peace" seems to be rapidly unraveling everything I believed was it's source and the optics of an accelerating downward spiral, threaten to engulf me entirely; I realize where I came from doesn't make me public enemy number one,  true also for the supporting cast in my story, nor does it nor did it ever, make me better than anyone else. As anyone that knows me could attest - I ain't no fashion plate, still there ain't no price for being the best dressed guy in the food bank or soup kitchen line.

Song says - "Nobody Knows You When Your Down and Out"  I'm not so sure that's true. Here in the midst of so many people that many would say, have little or no reason to continue to "let their light shine" and yet I see that they do. So maybe this passing nod in the street is a recognition of that - a gesture of: though nobody else cares to look, maybe not even yourself at times, I will, I do, and I see you.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Spinning the Classics

Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Life is but a dream

- "English language nursery rhyme"


Encrypted passage of universal truth and wisdom?

Of course I remember singing this verse as a child - as was the case with other "nursery rhymes" (some of which in later life, I came to know depicted some rather grisly events and shadowy aspects of "human nature." I don't recall deriving any particular meaning from any of this nor was any offered. I absolutely value (to this very day) music, song, singing - but in retrospect I think children should not just be fed arbitrary rhymes without a mindful consideration of the meaning behind them. Seems to me it trivializes/minimizes the impact of the original events and might even create a difficulty with reconciling the rote learning and recitation of these verses when one comes to know of their origins. A consciousness - or rather lack there of, that systematically desensitizes, creates the need for disassociation and denial of otherwise horrific atrocity, implicitly grants acceptance and permission for the violence to be perpetuated.

Returning to the above referenced rhyme then, what might be gleaned from it's seemingly trite presentation?

Row row row YOUR boat (capitals and emphasis mine);

I consider what is being expressed here rather explicitly suggests, that I row my own boat. Why? Well I could let someone else do it, but how long is it going to be before they decide, "I'm rowing, and I want to go over there!" I might be thinking I'm pretty clever, look at me I'm getting a free ride here, until I give my head a shake, look around and realize my boat isn't anywhere near my desired destination! At that point I might spend more time confounding my situation by screaming at the person I gave the oars to - rather than saying, thanks for the ride, I'll take those oars back now and by the way, not only am I rowing now I'm captain and GPS!

Gently down the stream:

If I am the vessel (boat) that is traveling upon this stream (life) how much easier would it be, if I "go with flow?" rather than expend untold energy thrashing around sometimes even going against the current - fighting and struggling every inch of the way, only to become exhausted and unable to continue battling the stream, I finally give up and I'm taken to some little oasis upon it's banks. Of course by then I'm battered, bruised and depleted and it's some time before I can appreciate where I am or how easy it might have been to get there without all the force and efforting. The other thing is when I'm quiet enough - the stream can be heard sharing endless wisdom and beautiful melodies. However, if I'm so busy huffing and puffing, thrashing about I can't hear any of it! Perhaps contrary to mindsets such as: "No pain - no gain," "Do or die" etc. one could consider: Go - but go gently!

Merrily merrily merrily merrily:

I don't want to insult anyone's intelligence but the post would be incomplete if I didn't comment here! I would submit there isn't anything in the way of a hidden message here! And just in case it's unclear - it's repeated four times!

 How then are we to engage with life? - Merrily!

What's that you say? - Merrily!

What are you some kind of Polly Anna? - Merrily!

No I'm not a pessimist - I'm just being "realistic" - Merrily!!!!!!!

Joesph Campbell said: "Follow Your Bliss"

It has also been said: "It is Your Father's great pleasure to give you the kingdom."  Though you might need to consider that if what you are doing has you feeling miserable, then maybe it's not the path to your kingdom.  (See Row Row Row Your Boat) If you're not rowing take back the oars. If you are - I'll be kind............ consider a course change.

Life is but a Dream:

I know... I know.... my shit feels pretty real too!!!! Think about some of the things you might have anguished over sometime previously. Now perhaps you wonder, what was all the fuss about? But how much time and energy went into that stew? And for what? I mean no disrespect to anyone that is still processing some past life event - do what you need to do to honour and make peace with yourself. All I know is with an expanded perspective my stories (my dream) are not carved in stone the way that  I might have previously believed and as the veil is removed, all is indeed not as it seems and events upon my own personal stage and likely those upon the world stage alter as my "vision" transforms. I am becoming more firmly convinced that heaven on earth and hell can be right here - right now and they are of my own making!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

There's a Prophet Next Door - Ya Right....... He's Unemployed!!!!!

It has both been said that: "that a Prophet has no Honour in his Own Country" and on a less known scale "don't discount the message because you dislike the messenger." The first was one of the many things attributed to have been said by Jesus. An "explanation" I sourced, indicated that those that had known him since his childhood might have taken issue with his teachings based on the notion "who did he think he was to be espousing this "wisdom." After all he was just that Jesus kid, from down the street (maybe it went a little like this .... come down off your high horse mister..... you son of a............. carpenter!!!) Then this same source went on to excuse the rabble for not realizing Jesus "was God" (that aspect of the theology would be where I get off the ride).

I do believe he was a highly evolved human being - but I also believe his "teaching" was to demonstrate what is possible for each and every member of humanity. Which still could raise the question within his "peers" isn't he just a regular bloke like you and me? Well, I suppose yes and no!

As for the other idea, think about whether you have ever dismissed something someone has said for no other reason than you don't like him or her. It could be "sage advice" - you might hear it again from someone else you find less objectionable and then be more receptive. Or get to a place where it occurs to you (as though you thought of it) and then it's heeded for it's validity. The fact that you have it in for this particular person might well be telling in itself.  But even if you don't have any intention of hanging out with this person, doesn't mean that they don't have something of value to say.

What does it take in order for someone to go from relative obscurity to someone that is being quoted later in their life or centuries after they have gone? Will Stephen King be continually quoted as is Mark Twain? If not why not? They are both writers - that achieved public attention and acclaim.

What is it that makes some individuals seem so extraordinary that not only their lives are seen as outstanding but they are also then seen, as possessing a perspective on life itself that you wouldn't solicit from let's say for example, your plumber.  (I have no particular reason for choosing the profession of plumbing to make my point). And who's to say that when the plumber isn't responding to household crisis, he or she doesn't spend a great deal of time in contemplation and might well have some significant pearls of wisdom to share. I will once again point out that much was made of the teachings of Jesus and he was a carpenter (by trade).

What I am suggesting is that nobody has the monopoly on universal wisdom nor exclusive access to it. Francis of Assisi before he embarked upon, and led the life, that posthumously had him declared a "saint" was the son of a wealthy merchant who was given to carousing and reveling around town. He then aspired to be a knight and fight in the crusades. Despite these rather pedestrian pursuits and even what might be described as skeletons in his closet, he underwent some sort of transformation which entirely changed his life trajectory. Even still what he was doing certainly wasn't embraced by his father nor did the towns people aplaud his passion for those cast away by society. So despite his non-conformity (or perhaps because of it) his word and deed are seen by many as worthy of both heeding or being seen as a model for replication. Not that fame or popularity was his aim, but there again exists the lack of recognition by the people of Assisi that there was a "prophet in their midst."

 My understanding of the teaching of Jesus was that it was a path of personal transformation (certainly not as demonstrated in many churches created "in his name"). This transformation opened one through their own heart and soul to the creative intelligence of the universe (sometimes known as God) - it was not necessary to depend on an intermediary (priest etc.) This empowerment and autonomy that he advocated, might well be what got him killed (not unlike other outspoken figures throughout history that speak "subversive" ideology (a.k.a. truth) that threatens those in power. 

Now while I'm suggesting all humanity has the innate "wiring" to undergo this transformation it is not everyone that dedicates themselves to it's pursuit. It is not a case of anything a kin to "holier than thou," moral or spiritual superiority that makes this possible - it is more determined by free will choice. As is fairly obvious there are no end of material world distractions. Interesting to me that religion was once called the "opiate of the masses" - I'm not sure that "it" can hold a candle to the zombie apocalypse created through mass media and the God of Consumerism. Here within each is assigned his or her "value" by their ability to continue to participate - needs are addressed  rather quickly and completely in the scheme of things and yet there is no cessation. It would appear that the achieving of satiety is not possible or even seemingly desired. Now I am not speaking from some perceived high ground - it just so happens that I felt compelled to examine my life (& life itself) quite sometime ago now. I had no idea that it would take me where I have been nor did I imagine it would still be ongoing some six years later. Now I suppose I entered into this exploration with the hypothesis - I couldn't examine the life I was living - while continuing to live it. The journey has revealed for me many a flawed premise through which I was operating. Income generation became less a primary focus as I lived off other resources - therefore consuming became more and more moderated. Fast forward to now where the current status is a need to resume generating income while at the same time there is nothing in the way of surplus, so beyond food and shelter there is a complete state of "consumption interruptus."

I have a hard time imagining that a return to income generation would signal the automatic resumption of consumption - I see very little point in that being so. 

Thoreau said of his retreat to the woods of Walden pond: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

I had no idea he said that - I searched on the name of the lake to get a sense of what he had gone there for - to perhaps liken his withdrawing from the society of his time in some way, to what I have made this period of my life about. I found this quote immediately. It is both fitting for my comparison and also serves to expand my query with regard to what is it that created an enduring appetite for the perspectives of this particular writer who went into solitude. Any parallel I might draw for myself might well be quickly dismissed by the "peanut gallery" as deluded or illusions of grandeur, "the life of Riley, "your a layabout" - shirking responsibility. That could only really be said if it's maintained that my responsibility is to the "economy." Who exactly is responsible to live out my heart and soul directives? If I were to completely lose myself once again in the "rat race" that would be a renunciation of my responsibility! It simply can't be justified on the basis of the number of other people doing it. I don't know about anyone else, but deepening my awareness and awakening my consciousness couldn't have happened while I was busy "keeping up with the Jones." I had to slow things down and simplify things enough, that I could even see that was what I was doing!

The irony of the quotes that are plucked from the life work (like some "greatest hits album") of those that chose to engage with life in the pursuit of their calling - is that they end up on calendars to become part of the blind consumption not so merry-go-round, and the essence of what they were trying to convey becomes a stocking stuffer! (Ho-ho-ho!!)

I sat in a circle at one time - it was a discussion group on some facet of spirituality. I forget now what I said  - one women responded, "oh I like that, who said that?"

I replied, "I did"
"No really who said it?" "I know it just came out of your mouth, but who really said it?"

"I'm telling you - I said it, whether it came from my mind or the creative intelligence directly through me, you won't find that expressed anywhere else."

She laughed and still was hesitant to accept my answer.
"Alright I said, it matters not - I don't have the copyright on it, you can believe it came from elsewhere, go ahead do the research and by all means feel free to "use" it. At the time I was exasperated - the very idea, that because you have seen me a number of weeks in a particular circle not only could nothing profound come through me, but that it was also held true that if I said something inspiring I must be quoting someone else!

Apparently Buddha was verbally abused in front of some of his followers by someone in his village who demanded to know "what gave him the right to be teaching others about life?" Buddha wished him well, ignoring the barrage. Afterward one of his students was upset and asked why had he tolerated the abuse of this man? The Buddha replied - "if someone offers you a gift and you decline it, who does it belong to?" The student replied to the one who offered the gift.

So even though the Buddha had a consciousness that gave rise to both his behaviour and explanation he was challenged by someone that was unwilling to see the value of his consciousness and teachings because he knew him previously.

Am I comparing myself to Jesus, Buddha or Thoreau? Not directly, I am however questioning for myself how much can I affect change for example, in my own community - given the apparent credibility gap that these "heavy hitters" had in their own time and locale. I suppose it's all relative but it occurs to me the message of the importance of a spiritual life is difficult to qualify within a society that is so materialistically oriented. I know that the two don't need to be mutually exclusive but I have not entirely got to the place where the two are reconciled and my life embodies a non-dualistic representation.

Other questions I might ask myself are: how uncompromisingly am I willing to pursue truth, passion and soul guidance? Can I throw myself completely into my life path without concern for recognition - rather then, for the love of my work and that my work would represent both the love that I am and love of myself in the doing? What is the source of this perception of lacking credibility? (external or internal) Are there any limits when stacking a soul-guided, "self"- directed life path versus the societal paradigms with its status symbols and academic standings occupying hallowed ground and hosted upon pedestals?

Maybe it is a recognition that the work is what matters not recognition for the work!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Curtain Call for a Season

The landscape still speaks in stilted whispers
Of the vibrancy of the dogs day yield
She advances unfettered by whim or fancy
The air betrayed her arrival
Before any would dare speak her name
The grasses drought parched thirst
Begins to be quenched
Resurrecting it’s chlorophyll complexion
With each step that she takes
Her robes of amber hue
Proclaim the theme of her intention
Hill and dale
Moor and mountain
Are to become her canvas
Palettes dripping of ochre and crimson
Will soon be applied with grace and flair
Pageantry and a festival of colours
She is the consummate hostess
For a celebration
Prequel to the Solstice chill
The carpet red
Flags her exit
Her brilliance
Will arrive
Without fanfare
Depart without applause
With no further ado
I give you Autumn
With my appreciation

Friday, 3 October 2014

United to the Call

I don’t know what I did expect
When it first occurred I must connect
Alternative paths most not direct
Renounce their dogma and what they project
My search for my tribe becoming suspect
First told you belong – then me you reject
If from collective mind one dares defect
Conditional love the group will reflect
Unyielding heart dropped shield meant to protect
Fellowship’s price – flood of conformity, to deflect
Do I have a part – to question correct
I seek to walk my way home - to deep self respect
To diverse and varied people collect
My truth offered with no disrespect
The voice of many may still misdirect
I answer only where soul and the Divine intersect.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Eyes that I Might See

"I once was blind, but now I see" - John Newton (1725 - 1807) which you might recognize as a line from the poem/hymn "Amazing Grace." I am more interested in the "seeing" reference as a focal point, however, I consider it necessary to also address the orientation of the song's author (no doubt reflective of the consciousness at the time) but which certainly is by no means unheard of all these many years later.

He suggests that the scope of this "grace" is - "Amazing" which I'm not debating. However, he draws that conclusion in relative terms, based on his self assessment as that of a "wretch." What I hold to be true is indeed grace is amazing, in that it is not necessary to "earn it," "deserve it," "do anything" for it, well except maybe, to be open to receiving it and divested in what that might look like. I don't believe in a God/Creator that has a required criteria for people in order to avail themselves to this grace, everyone is eligible equally.  Further to this if I hold a view of myself as a "wretch" (and I have - though I likely wouldn't have used that term specifically) knowingly or more likely unknowingly, I will deny myself the access to an ever-present grace, believing myself to be unworthy or undeserving. Never the truth, but the end result can be the same - free will allows me to hold to mistaken beliefs and consequently live them as though they were true. This as it happens - certainly in my case, reveals quite an complex weave of self-deception that I can blame on "bad luck," "bad karma," "no opportunities," being singled out by a "cruel world," culminating with being "forsaken by God itself." You might notice implicit in all these perspectives, conspicuous by its absence, is any reference to myself having anything to do with the "creation" of this "graceless life" and of course completely ignores the many ways it has continued to be present in my life, even when I've been doing my utmost to deny it.

Having presented that personal perspective I now feel I have created the context within which to elaborate on this business of being "blind" and subsequent "sight or seeing." I suppose it bears mentioning this represents a perspective, "as I see it." - pun intended. Support it, adopt it, dispute it - it matters not - I will not return to a viewpoint that features me as a "wretch." In part I don't think it's possible even if I wanted to and if it were, I can't imagine why on earth (or in heaven's name) I'd want to. That in itself could be said to be an altered vision.

Are we speaking about eyesight here - it's possible, I've recently come to learn of a fellow by the name of Jacques Lusseyran - who lost his eyesight as the result of an accident when he was eight years old - which created for him the "opportunity" to rely more exclusively on faculties of inner knowing, perception (seeing) that he was aware of prior to becoming "blind" but perhaps never would have been developed to the same extent had he remained "sighted."He went on to become a integral part of the French resistance during the occupation of France during the Second World War. His movements and activities were ignored as he was "seen" as "blind" and no particular "threat." This remained the case until the group he was operating within was exposed by an infiltrator and they were arrested and placed in a Nazi death camp where he remained until liberated by allied troops, he being one of the few that survived. I was immediately inspired by this story and can hardly wait to read his autobiography which will soon be in my hands.

Immediately this story points at the reality that there are more ways to see, than meets the eye. Due to the orientation and in effect worship of the mind/intellect in the western world, collectively perhaps we could be deemed seeing "impaired." Granted there is a growing awareness/acceptance of perception beyond the five senses - or at least I seem to think so, but it could reflect an interest/bias of my own.

What other ways then can one be described as being "blind?" Certainly the field of psychology offers the identification of numerous "defense mechanisms" that come into play to help an individual avoid the pain of various truth concerning themselves. Certainly I have come to know through a path of  "personal growth" and spirituality a seemingly endless laundry list about myself. Grace then, can be seen as that power/presence that reveals the previously unseen - an unfolding act of divine love. It has been said both that "truth hurts" and that it will set you free. It seems to me that the truth itself is not at all painful - in fact rather benign. It is my judgment and self-condemnation that are painful! Coming to know that does offer me freedom from the continuous cycle of discovery and self-admonishment. To be able to see further into myself is ultimately a gift - it offers me the opportunity to "see" what I am doing (or not) recognize that it no longer serves and becomes part of the process of releasing and healing those patterns completely.

Attempts to moralize unconsciousness or a lack of seeing, serves nothing or no one. It is judgment and further shame that I try to avoid in the first place - ultimately that from myself. But it is also true that there is an innate desire for love and approval in us as humans, which can become unbalanced. It is this avoidance of further pain that can be behind a profound reluctance to face the truth. You cannot bring about a positive change in behaviour through shame and punishment. Shame begets the pain of more shame. Of course I have to be accountable for my behaviour, but I'm suggesting that if I am able to respond with love (as in be responsible) it will lead to an entirely different outcome than continued punishment.

I am suggesting this business of seeing myself (or another) which might well then be a projection of further unconsciousness as a "wretch," is an extremely limiting "self-fulfilling prophecy." One cannot see beyond the walls of the city of wretchedness! I cannot dream, aspire or hope to attain anything but wretchedness through the eyes of a wretch. So then even if someone is incarcerated as a consequence of their actions it would be wise to do so in an environment that fostered self-love. Otherwise the individual when released will be physically free, but still imprisoned within the walls of their own self-contempt.

As this post is not intended to be exhaustive in nature I certainly don't claim to be able to cover the full scope of expanded seeing, if for no other reason than, I can't present in this moment, beyond the existence of my own continued "blind spots."

I do want to at least touch upon the "eyes of the heart" which I'm sure could be a topic without end. Not by any means a ground-breaking expose I'm embarking on here - though having said that, it is of sorts, when brought home to my own life. It seems to me if I can make sweeping generalizations for the moment, that religious/spiritual paths of the Eastern world have known and maintained the significance of, a heart-centered life. Here in the west much has been said about the heart but it's largely been an intellectual abstraction (which in and of itself is a contradiction). The heart then has been seen at best as the center of sentimentality and emotion and relegated a back seat to the mind/intellect or even seen as a hindrance to clear "rational-thinking" and thereby completely dismissed and devalued.

This is particularly true of men, although certainly by no means exclusive to only one gender. As we are all influenced by the cultural milieu.  If a cross-sectional group of mixed gender were taken and it were presumed the women present, are more advanced (conversant, aware, expressive) emotionally, it is just as possible, that if asked, they might indicate they wish men were more "emotionally available" but due to the a fore mentioned cultural influence, these same individuals might have no idea how to hold space for their partner if he "broke down" and had a good old cry. Suffice to say that a broad spectrum exists for all facets of the human condition - the more this can be "seen" and accepted the more differences could be over-looked in order to realize and deepen connection.

The thing about the heart is it has been seriously undersold! If universal intelligence, love, grace, God etc. is though of as a frequency, then the heart is the satellite dish. A finely individually tuned center with its own "intelligence." To cut myself off from this so very vital part of my being and ignore it's guidance, yearning, and direction throughout life, might be likened to having a series of food allergies with severe reactions and just going ahead and eating these food types anyway.

One need look for evidence no further than their own personal life or those around them if verification is required. Of those that live their lives in accordance to the tyrant "I should" or giving up on dreams and doing what is "realistic," how content are they/you? Of course there are practicalities - following the heart doesn't preclude the need for food, clothing and shelter. But resignation around the need to suffer and be miserable would be the spawn of the same consciousness that would have me or you believe we are "wretched." Of course following your heart alone won't necessarily yield your own "rags to riches" story. My personal story if observed strictly from the surface might be said to be more the reverse, i.e. riches to rags. This first off, a gross misrepresentation of what is true for me within. Through the eyes of my heart I can see far more in far less. I don't place judgement on either as being better or worse. But if less is seen as more, then it might well quell an otherwise insatiable appetite. If I look upon my self as being enough, unconditional love, the love of the divine, to and through my heart and toward me, I can assure you my orientation toward the world changes. These changes are currently and continually unfolding so I don't even know what's in store. It means I don't have to do anything more, buy anything more, go anywhere else, lose weight, gain muscle, grow more hair, get in/out of a relationship or get a "better job" in order to be ok! I could do any or all of that stuff, but it would be a conscious choice to do so, still knowing, none of it makes any difference to who I am.

This begins to illustrate why it is that I won't align myself any longer with systems that continually cast me in a negative light (of course in order to do so I would have to believe it is so) and then all my wounds and neurosis are ripe for the picking. I'm the perfect consumer, not to mention wage slave as I would then continue to look outside myself to ease this pain and needless to say, in our consumer economy there is no end of consumables.

"I was blind and now I (am beginning) see." Not a moment too soon!!!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

MIne is Not To Reason Why - Actually, It Is!

Once again my pedal powered presence placed me in near proximity to overhear a conversation taking place between an adult women, a small group of children (three) and an adult male. I have reason to believe they were a "family" but don't know that to be true. They were waiting on the meridian to cross in the cross-walk I was right there waiting to cross in the same direction - so there was no way to not hear their discussion. They were all weighing in on different activities to do for the remainder of the afternoon. Suffice to say that everyone in the group had a different vision and was making a "case" for their prioritization. The adult male who appeared to be standing in the role of father-figure, was speaking in favour of returning home and relaxing - the young people had visions of going for ice cream, their enthusiasm was not being shared.

Now this conversation didn't escalate to create one of those ethical dilemma's over how much is too much when addressing children (of course I'm talking for myself here) but the gentleman did become rather emphatic about how it was "going down." So far - no particular human rights violations and neither was there anyway for me to mind my own business, nor did they seem to see any need to curtail the interaction with me sitting in their midst. The kids gave what turned out to be one last appeal and their mother directed at the collective: "don't you dare argue with an adult!!" That was it - the group fell into silence.

I don't know about anyone else there, but I'm triggered now! I'm thinking WTF? No I did not then engage in the conversation, well not out loud anyway. But I pedaled away and I was "in it!"
"What the hell kind of logic is that?" This comes in part because I recognize I'm an adult and some of what I say and do warrants questioning - at the very least from myself. But in no way to I consider what I say to be impeccable, based on my adult status. I don't remember when it was that I realized that I didn't have to remain perpetually silent - that I wasn't necessarily in violation of "RESPECT YOUR ELDERS" because I "spoke back" or questioned their position. For sure I was an adult at the time and even then wasn't aware that this indoctrination and associated story and belief I conjured resided on my "hard drive" and was running the show. I worked for years with seniors so invariably though I advanced in age each year - I was still "wet behind the ears" in someones estimation. It was quite some considerable time before I made the distinction that one could respect the time someone had been walking planet earth and their experience - but that didn't mean that all their behaviour merited respect.

Clearly I'm not entirely at peace where this is concerned, given while they were busy pressing the cross-walk button apparently my "button" was being pressed at the same time. More opportunity to observe myself and ascertain what lies below. I can't say I've ever been physically gagged - but without a doubt there were times when the cost of speaking up seemed to out weigh my silence - so while my motivation might have been debatable, nonetheless, I chose to surrender my voice. That is a notable step toward responsibility for me - owning that. I also don't have to wait for permission to speak, nor wait to have what I say be assigned value from others, in order to speak up - nor speak only when I echo the group conscience. I do need to be responsible for how I choose to express myself - which still represents a "growing edge" for me.

The other thing that occurs to me is dogma doesn't just exist within religions. Oh sure even in "secular" society there are many widely held belief and ways of being, that have their roots in some religion. I'm referring to looking at my own ways of being and asking why do I cling so fervently to them? In some cases if I were pressed by someone else for an explanation I might not even have a particularly compelling reason beyond - it's just how I am. My point here is the profound effect that subjecting young people to these dogmatic ideas can have. Say what you want about self-help/spiritual authors but I inclined to acknowledge that Don Miguel Ruiz was onto something when he wrote about "being impeccable with your word" in his book "The Four Agreements" I submit that in the case of "Respect Your Elders," taken to the extreme the child is unwilling to question or confront anyone on the basis that they are an adult. The plain and simple truth is that parents, police, teachers, political leaders are all adults and all fallible. I think children should be encouraged to question everything. Learn to trust their own discernment and develop their intuition.

Self assurance ideally is fostered early on - it's a long road back otherwise!

I'm reminded of the story of the youngest daughter in this particular family deciding she was going to host the family Christmas dinner. She wanted to cook the traditional glazed ham that had been the custom within her family as long back as she could remember. She called her mother - for directions on how to cook the ham as she had never done one before. Her mother instructed her to first cut both ends off the ham then went into the details of preparing the glaze, cooking temperature etc. The daughter listened intently so as not to miss anything and then asked why do we cut the ends off? "I don't know," replies the mother "that's just how it's done." "Your grandmother will be at dinner ask her - it's her recipe." So the evening arrived everyone was around the table for dinner and the daughter presents from the kitchen the glazed ham cooked to perfection. As she sets it on the table she looks to her grandmother and asks, "Grandma could you tell me why it is necessary to cut the ends off the ham before it goes in the oven." "Well grandma answers, I only had one size roasting pan and a ham big enough to feed the whole family wouldn't fit, so I had to cut it down to size."

The problem with following dogmatic thinking regardless of its source - external or internal,  there may have been a valid reason for it at one time or it may well have been handed down person to person and no one had the courage or thought to ask, why is this so?

Slow Down & Listen

I for quite sometime been an enthusiastic walker, yes I own an automobile but I frequently opt to leave it at home in favour of a walk into town. Errands further a field are usually broken up with stops at various oasis' on route, of the java dispensing variety.

Recently I have made a conscious choice to park the car. As well as walking, I have dusted off my bike and have added pedal power to my modes of transit. I have not as yet decided to get rid of the car altogether, though I am definitely considering the merits of the electric scooters that have recently caught my attention - no license, no insurance, no gas, pretty attractive if you ask me! Of course I am entertaining this while we are currently enjoying an extended summer. I already use the bus as a fall back - when I feel like conserving a little energy rather than walk all the way to or back from town, carrying my guitar. Certainly that it a viable option on really foul weather days. At any rate I suppose I will not only increase my own wellness with the addition of all this physical activity, I will lower my personal carbon foot-print while I conducting this experiment.

The upshot of these what I'd call more intimate (more immediate) forms of commuting, is just that I find that so much more comes within the scope of my awareness. Walking or cycling bring you up close and personal with your surroundings. All kinds of things pop out that weren't obvious to me, even when traveling the same route by car. To be sure cycling calls upon one to be aware, does for me anyway! I suppose I'd call my state while cycling relaxed-awareness. In other words I'm not tense and anxious, I don't ride as though my potential demise is around each corner, but nor am I complacent, I don't ride like nothing could happen to me, but I wouldn't ride at all if I couldn't enjoy the experience. So while in areas of heavy traffic, parked cars etc. I am watching those that aren't watching me, looking for car doors to swing open, broken glass or other road conditions that are not conducive to "smooth sailing" at times having to make in the moment decisions with respect to an evasive maneuver while not putting myself into harms way elsewhere. This presence also affords a connection experience that is not typical of my automobile travel.

So collectively, what with walking, cycling and busking in town I'm being afforded the opportunity  to take in and participate more deeply in my "community." I suppose I have had my own version of getting and staying busy in the past that precluded me from this. I have to say though at times I have been experiencing "growing pains" as I embrace the circumstances I find myself in, I also must say that I am also enriched by many aspects of it. I imagine that at times I'm not entirely aware, that the very things that I might be struggling with - in the wake of their absence, are the very openings that are necessary so that I can have a completely different experience. This might have nothing to do with what I might "be doing" six months or a year from now - but I feel it's important to bring everything I have to bare to this present experience.

As some may know I have a book project near completion, that involved a practice that I developed or that developed me, involving walking a labyrinth every morning for forty days. The book reflects my process over these forty days and the various matters I pondered. I look forward to the completion of that project which will involve my becoming acquainted with self-publishing and having that happen. Concurrently I find myself in a new process - busking is for me a journey of discovery.

If I made the whole thing about income generation or comparing myself to other performers (which I have and it is now my intention to let go of that orientation). I have indeed come to see my judgment of myself, to attribute this to busking alone would be erroneous, what I have chosen to do, is now just the vehicle, the judgment pre-exists it. So without intending it as so, I see where wounds of yester-year are standing in my own way. So it wouldn't matter if I were busking or the CEO of XYZ there would be that energy.

There are for me some sublime moments during a "performance"that I wish to focus on as perhaps  my raison d'etre.  Occasionally someone will step out from where ever it was they were and break out into song as they walk past - singing along with whatever I happen to be singing at the time! They may or may not "contribute" financially - and at the moment that is not the point. I just happen to think singing in the streets is a very good thing. I know that long before I have ventured into the being the "performer," my spirits have been lifted in the moment and beyond, by the energy and presence of some of Victoria's array of downtown talent. It actually doesn't enter into this conversation the matter of how good or not, that I might be - the fact remains I got the opportunity to be part of these various moments where, as well as it being a "day in the life" of each that passes by, some took that moment to bring to it, a shared musical moment. I certainly appreciate those moments,  I am focusing on a change of attitude overall, so though I come to bring something of myself I still walk away feeling blessed.

Yesterday while playing in a local library courtyard - was just one of those moments, I happened to be singing "I Can't Help Falling in Love" when a small group of people walked through (an older couple and perhaps son/daughter and partner) the older gentle stopped and joined right in, the others carried on until they realized he had stopped, he then caught up to them and proceeded to serenade his wife, he then came back out of his way to "tip" me. Why is it I wonder that movies etc. are so popular,  it seems to me it's about those heart warming scenes that some have come to think "only happen in the movies" and yet there it was a scene that could have been right off the big screen -  yet it was happening right there live, in real time and I was being given the gift of being able to participate (co-create) - truly beautiful!!

An additional opportunity for connection included a fellow sitting with me at a sidewalk table outside the market I had been singing at earlier in the day. I had brought myself a small lunch from home - I found it amusing that I was "brown-bagging" it to busk. Anyway the gentlemen was reflecting on my song selections and sharing his experience with performing (music and acting) that he had known success and "fame" in writing and various performance arts. He went on to say how important it had been at one time for him to "make it" and then when he did - it wasn't at all what he thought it would be or what he wanted. He then divulged that it had all ended rather abruptly when overshadowed by a "mental illness." He shared with matter-of-fact articulate insight, that he could now see that some of what he might have considered at one time, to be inspired action - was carried out in forms of "mania" that didn't serve him. He spoke of incarceration in various forms of "institutions." Then he asked me - "what gets you up in the morning?" I was dumb-founded - I was humbled and deeply appreciated his candor and after what he had shared with me, I ran up against a sense of inadequacy to speak on the matter at hand. I dismissed the notion to play my fall back card of humour - by saying something like: "well generally it's the call of my bladder that gets me up and once there, I decide I might as well carry on with the day!" I wanted to hold this conversation with due respect. I've since read a quote which in effect said " that it is poisonous to ones soul to compare yourself to another." Without question I was in the midst of doing that - when I recognized, he's not asking me what he should do, he's not asking me to "fix" him in any way, it's simply an invitation to be seen and known. In my mind I'm scrambling to reconcile - "what the hell gets this fellow tagged as having a mental illness and to the best of my knowledge no such labels exist for me (probably can't be over-emphasized "to the best of my knowledge" - who knows what tapestry has been woven over my lifetime, if all that is associated with my "social insurance number (aka "SIN") "were combined in one "dossier" which is likely the case. I mention a morning practice - which has elements of spirituality, maybe it's all spiritual (though there are some physical components, nature-time, contemplation and silent connection) it's certainly what I need to feel good, I know this by giving myself the experience of life with various aspects included and dropping some at times. He listens and then replies "ya right." I didn't get that he was being dismissive - he even said, "ya I could use some structure again." In hindsight, I was coming to grips with the fact, I've really got to get to, what works for me and if asked, let go of any expectation that anyone else adopt any of it. I don't get up in the morning - thinking I'm going out there to fix or solve the riddles of anyone's life, however unconsciously there it is, somehow, the illusion of steering someone else, salves my wounds and uncertainty - read, distracts me from full investment in what I need.  Of course we can learn from one another - but there is a personal guidance system that will let me know if the "suggestions" of someone else - will work for me and vice versa.

It challenging for me to enter into such conversations when I'm currently experiencing so much transition in my life. When processing some of the more difficult feelings and truths I sometimes think I'm hanging by a thread. That perception itself is probably ripe for the picking and releasing - still when someone asks "what are you doing?" I really believe I'm required to be "doing it right." I suspect the bottom line is, that I'm identifying a deepening need to continue to expand upon my ability to listen and formulate questions that direct people back to their own answers! 

At the close he thanked me and expressed appreciation for hearing him and for the conversation. Despite my thinking I had nothing to offer him - he valued being heard above anything else. I am of the mind that I received far more than I gave.

What a gift it is becoming, the simple act of slowing my life enough to begin to hear more deeply and to connect to and know myself, those around me, and my community, more intimately.

Friday, 12 September 2014

What You Believe is What You Will See!

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. - Marianne Williamson

If we can lay aside the debate as to the source of the above quotation and just consider the content what do we have here?

Well it certainly goes against the grain of the group mind that creates the dogmatically diminutive and overtly polite Canadian persona that is often used as a measure of just how "not-American" (as in from the U.S.A.) "we" are.

As I journey and consider the quality of humility as it pertains to my way of being in the world, it seems to me to paint a picture of one that stands fully in all that they were created to be - what we have then, is a radically different representation of true humility.

I suppose it's a potentially slippery slope to try and expand upon the quality of humility without crossing the line into ego-aggrandizement, or at least being accused of doing so. That in itself might be the very barrier to ones full expression of themselves- "others will think poorly of me." If this were to be the criteria used to decide when one could stand in authenticity, when exactly would you ever be "free" to do so? I think the short answer is - Never!

Truly there is nothing "enlightened" about playing small for the purpose of care taking the feelings of others. If everyone is wandering around in this group consciousness of competitive self-abasement  i.e. "oh no it was nothing," "no really it wasn't that good - I should have done much better," "I'm nothing compared to...." "I could not even hope to carry his/her baggage" this is not "humility." This is more likely the flip-side of an ego that sees it necessary to over-inflate the self, in order to mask deep wounds, feelings of inferiority and inadequacy, by seeking love and attention from outside the self to compensate for a lack of love from within, by drawing support from others through self-criticism. From this mind-set it can be difficult even to accept love no matter where it is coming from. Attempts to express love to individuals such as this, are met with various forms of deflection leaving the giver perhaps feeling slighted and the receiver continuing to feel empty.

What then would a healthy love and appreciation of self look like? Well to begin with I'm not talking about being boastful. The problem is there is many a paradigm existing that would cast dispersion on the self-loving individual. It is not widely encouraged to be overly "self-concerned" and yet if I'm not concerned for myself - who is going take that on? And while it has been said "pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall." There will be no need to concern yourself about falling if you never allow yourself to get up, let alone fly. To one entrenched and well-schooled in selflessness as a virtue and "not blowing ones own horn" someone that is confidently and fully standing in their power and freely self-expressed, might be said to be "arrogant." Scripture such as the previous have been twisted and subject to some of the same treatment as some mainstream theology that suggest that "we" are certainly not worthy of God's praise - so what would make you think you should hold yourself in high esteem? A life of suffering is presented as "our" comeuppance for the presumed sinful nature of humanity. Still from this frame of reference it is suggested if you "give until it hurts"that somehow there is a reward, in so doing.

So then to "devalue" oneself is not at all bestowing that which is rightly due. It's easy to see that if you have a congregation full of people and that at their core, they feel poorly about themselves, they as a group, would be easily controlled and manipulated. This of course has nothing to do with a loving universe or a Creator synonymous with love, which of course many of these "mainstream" theologies aren't preaching. However if you consider a paradigm which insists that you are loved unconditionally, in fact the truth of your being is that you are love - that you are worthy of love, deserving of love, equal to (not less than) any other human being, that creation/the creator itself, loves you then who are you to be running around playing small, limiting yourself in thought and deed. It would be rather lacking in humility to take such a stance.

I'm not going to go into the myriad ways in which one might begin to walk a path which would begin to de-robe them of familial, societal, cultural etc. varieties of limited thinking and erroneous beliefs. I am suggesting that a consciousness built around unconditional love would involve a vision of win/win. There would be no need to play the martyr (not that there is one now) but the martyr archetype is certainly widely embraced. There's not anything particularly loving about it, if one party or group is diminished so drastically in order for the other to benefit. I would hazard to say - one cannot make a "big splash" by making themselves perpetually small. It also might just be, that though again, I'm not talking about being seen for the sake of being seen, just the same, if one is trying to reach and inspire others then you must be seen, heard and putting it out there!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Knock First - Walk Softly

Accepted customs at one’s heart altar
There exists a fundamentalist – like familiarity
The practice a peal of poetic entrainment
Surely there exists, a universal viewpoint?
Will then, reverence for your own
Produce an amnesia fog?
Blinding you at the door of another
Presumption and pretense not the currency of exchange
An honour and privilege has been extended
Humble supplication situationally appropriate
How far then will you walk?
Without a thought to removing your shoes!
Knock on the door – not what you find there!
Comparison and competition – means no connection
Unlock understanding the language of love being the key
Which requires no translation
Divinity unmasked within transcends
Both the illusion of difference
And the sum of the two parts
You will find me there upon bended knee
Won’t you please meet me there!!!!!!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Matters of the Heart

For those of you that have experienced something of my written expression, perhaps today's offering might be a departure from my "usual" orientation. First time readers of course would have no frame of reference. I suppose to begin with, an objective is merited, thereby providing a measure by which it can be determined if indeed I was "in the ballpark."

My notion is to write today for and through my heart - I believe that was vaguely the intention when I created this blog. It is after all at the URL: "heartpassages" somehow though, I often seem to allow my mind/intellect to shanghai the project and frankly that part of my being is quick to take over and is particularly impressed with itself.

Conversely my heart has frequently be relegated at best, to the backseat, at worst more like sent packing or booked passage in another vehicle. Ironically if my heart could speak, it would likely say "you might think me diminutive and insignificant but I exist in vastness beyond your wildest imagination, and frankly, your imagination is rather limited and can't begin to see me."

Seen through the eyes of my heart the world is tantalizingly beautiful. Far more willing is my heart to extend and be the expression of love than my head. Having said that my heart has indeed harboured wounds and hurts, enter the would be hero my head, with it's memory and safety strategies comprised of limitation. I allow my heart to acquiesce and there is the intellect ready to take over, presuming itself to be bigger than life, weaving complexity in an attempt to impress and win approval and the voice of my heart falls silent, denied the sweet nectar of engagement, ultimately denying love the very fabric of life. This intellectual armour is much like a non-indigenous invasive species of ivy growing in the midst of a rose garden - at first it is seemingly complimentary, but eventually it demands more than it's fair share of nutrients, moisture and sunlight and the garden's original inhabitants are choked out.

Seen through the rational, cold, calculated intellect my heart can be quickly tagged "Pollyanna" or dismissed with venomous proclamations of "unrealistic" and over-emotional. Stark pragmatism the on - ramp to the highway of dehumanization.

My heart feels deeply - the plight of the world, the profound sadness that seems to exist so frequently not so deeply hidden in many people I talk with. It saddens me deeply when I am in touch with the pain that seems to be part of our shared humanity. I have examined my own pain thoroughly - so I'm not convinced that paradigm that suggests we can only feel are "own pain" we are "separate" from each other is true. At the very least my heart is deeply empathic and feels the pain of another. If at the level of spirit "we are all one" then how could it not be true that I can be both present to my own energy and that of others.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Closet Dreamer

I'd like to introduce you to a friend of mine her name is Joey. I suppose perhaps that would make her full name Josephine. I have known "Joey" since I was a very young boy, though we weren't reacquainted until recently, when I was cleaning out my parents house and found her in the closet. Before you erroneously conclude what kinda house did he live in, this sounds like shades of the "Bates Hotel" or perhaps that would just represent my imagination and it's colourful digressions; I should explain "Joey" is a stuffed kangaroo. Now before the animal advocates pounce on me, pun intended, Joey is not actually a previously living kangaroo that was subsequently stuffed, she is a replica. Though given her vintage (which significantly predates the consciousness of keeping fur on the animals and the animals alive) - I can't say for sure that the fur isn't from some once live animal.

It took me quite sometime during the time of my innocence and naivete to piece together Joey's gender. Upon first examining "him" I had decided he was a he because quite clearly, he had a "wanger." Later, closer assessment revealed "it" had eyes, a most disturbing revelation. I eventually became aware that in fact what had been thought to be the male gender clinching appendage was actually Joey's .... Joey. Huh what do ya know.... Joey's a girl and he's (I mean) she's, got a baby. Which of course opened a whole other can of worms - i.e. what's that doing there and where the heck did it come from?

Joey came home with my dad after one of his journey's while in the navy, down to Australia. The mystery and intrigue for me was bigger than life as I tried to conceive of being on a ship traveling the requisite amount of time between the base here in Victoria and port in Australia. This was no Sunday drive - though I have to say those car rides were excruciatingly long and held for me minimal allure. Once arriving at what seemed to me to be the other side of the galaxy, all the pictures my dad brought back provided evidence that life there was not at all like it was here. What with koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, dingos, platypus and even the "run-of-the-mill" crocodile - I dreamed of the day when I would set foot on this other worldly continent. There was no where on the entire planet that I cared about beside Australia!

A whole lotta living went down after those days of wild abandon of the imagination. Joey and Australia got lost in a haze. I suppose I could quote the old song and say "I got stoned and I missed it!" For the most part that is a gross over-simplification, however there is some truth to it. The "dream" surfaced again when I was around 31 years of age - I was on my own, four or five years into "recovery" I was once again seeing through the eyes of possibility rather than just resignation. I began to ponder the notion of going to Australia. At that point it was not with the idea of moving my life there - I suppose it was just to answer this yearning of my youth. I had no real perspective on ideas like "follow your bliss" at the point. I had begun to explore books and sources that spoke of such things but my then well buried "victim consciousness" was quick to dismiss those enjoying life, as not having to play the cards I was dealt. (From here on I will abbreviate belief system b.s. - I do this not to berate myself, however, it is helpful for me to continue to discover "what I'm telling myself" and recognize the impact and determine whether it is life-enhancing) I had built my life on concession, "reason and practicality" there was no concern or attention toward passion, from the confines of my intellect cum prison, such things fell to the ground crushed beneath my boot as empty platitudes, non-sensical and "unrealistic." What made me believe, my (b.s.) was any more real, in hindsight, not much more than because they were mine, and "I say so!" Of course this can all but assure that they become true in my life, but not because they are inevitable, but because I will then go about putting endless energy into gathering "evidence" to make them true.

Again significant reductionism and over-simplification, but just the same, instead of going to Australia, I got married! Now I'm not in any way, shape, or form implying that the person I shared life with for seventeen years was responsible for the derailing of my dream. That would more accurately be brought about by my consistently and completely giving my dreams little or no ongoing priority, making no end of things "more important" whether I declared this aloud or not, the result is the same - I brought all kinds of things into being, but none of them took me "down under"well, except for the ever mounting cloud of resentment, depression & helplessness (perceived). That bore considerable "weight" and certainly felt like I was under something. Considering the rather nebulous state of these energies I can say they actually do have "weight." I am able to make this statement now having released significant baggage and the subsequent feeling of relief and spaciousness. I simply couldn't have spoke of such things before - because they did not exist for me.

So there is "Joey" sitting in the back of a closet, ears hanging, like a doberman pup before undergoing cropping etc. and her tail is all broken, straw stuffing hanging out, reminiscent of the scarecrow in Oz. I sat her on the hearth and worked around her for days. People came and went from the house laying claim to various items and there remained "Joey." Being in the house was conjuring up all varieties of memories and emotions, Joey seemed to be particularly "triggering" for me. I looked at her again and again - cold rationality tried to assert itself, "dumpster" for God sake it's useless crap!" My heart wasn't buying it - suddenly it came to me "Joey" and her mangled tail, represented my "broken dreams" - not just Australia, but so many things, gifts and talents, interests and life choices, abandoned. Coldly and callously I slammed the door on my heart so many years ago - ya, I had my "reasons" but none matter now as much as my owning my choices and forgiving myself. How did I enter into marriage with it's requisite call for romance and heart connection - well, think "Spock" without the ears and you'd not be far off the mark.

So I have taken "Joey" home, along with a couple of koala bears that graced the house as well. I don't recall that we named them, so they are now known as Ying & Yang. My intention is to repair Joey's tail and reclaim my faculty of dreaming. For now she and the koala's will serve as 3D vision boards. Currently Ireland is my Australia - it represents known ancestral heritage, without providing much more in the way of the kind of "assurance" I have often held out for, as a "valid" reason to do something. I now have the kind of life experience that suggests that the call to Australia way back then was quite likely for some reason, that I would be unable to determine until I was there or perhaps had been and returned. It might be an ancient ancestral calling or it might just be "because I said so" either way is absolutely valid.

I believe myself now to be a far more able champion of my dreams - and am deeply passionate about the ongoing study and practice of making them real.

Bless you and thank you - "Joey!"

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Dig This!

I wonder if it will be necessary for archaeologists to excavate and sift through the earth with surgical precision in order to study the human journey here in the western world during the twentieth and twenty-first century as they have done in order to study ancient cultures from the past? As I enjoy an early morning walk I find it necessary to step out widely from my path in order to go around a hide-a-bed in full extension, blocking the sidewalk and I conclude, little or no digging will be necessary! As to what they might conclude with regard to what "we" as a society value, what gives our lives purpose and what measures are implemented to guard against the personal spectre of irrelevancy, the apparently disposable couch seems to speak volumes. Now if they found the couch outside the crumbling remains of the foundation of the house they might conclude the inhabitants enjoyed sleeping outside under the stars. They could be forgiven for not realizing the stars are largely invisible due to the light pollution of urban sprawl. How could they know that the dwelling simply became too full of stuff or that it was "necessary" to replace this couch not because it was broken or ceased to do what couches do. No, this piece of furniture was made redundant through the fickle and addicting pursuit of the correct colour scheme and pattern that marks what is in vogue. "Oh my God that is so 70's it has got to go!"I hazard a guess that such trends have an even shorter turn-over rate currently, so even within the time frame of a decade there would be innumerable style changes.

Our archaeologists would have no way of knowing that in order to satisfy the need to sit and sleep alone, there could conceivably have been many forms of furniture come and go. The hide-a-bed was already mentioned, perhaps there has been a futon, maybe that has been retained to replace the monolithic couch that threatens to render anyone that dares to move it an opportunity to contribute to some chiropractor's retirement vision. And the water bed, what became of that? Retailed for thousands of dollars when it's place on the "popularity" wave was only exceeded by the waves created by the slightest movement once on the mattress. Of course technological advancement put cutting edge "baffles" in the next generation of beds to cut down on motion, with the exception of the movement of old bed out, new bed in. Hand to wallet, money to vender, as one purchases, hot of the sales floor, the next item of redundancy. The meter on the lifespan of that item began running while it was still in the window of the store. Not unlike the call of the sirens the seemingly hapless consumer can't wait to part with the money they have earned so that they can be the first one in the staff room at the job they lament going to every Monday morning, to brag about their latest acquisition. I mean really, should the combination of water and beds send people clamouring for their wallets, credit and lay-a-way plans - your lucky if the thing is paid off before the time released irrelevancy reaches maturation. I suggest that a lake or river would provide a relaxing location to float and perhaps the reality of incontinence may visit in years to come that might have one longing for a waterless sleep!

Now I know of the difficulty to find new homes for "old" furniture, having just emptied my parents home over a period of a couple months. My mom passed 2 days before her 87th birthday my dad now 85 has gone into care. Fifty - sixty years spent in that house, that's a lot of living! There even was a hide-a-bed, thankfully someone presented that was starting over after a marriage break-up and brought his young 20-something son along to carry it out. This in my mind alone reinforces my faith in the divine, one of many modern day miracles in my life. As I have said this journey has been and will continue to be, unquestionably a rite of passage for me. One of the revelations I am claiming as my own is that as I now approach my 55th year, my days of moving things such as hide-a-beds is over! I have nothing to prove in that respect. I love myself and my back! While flipping through a program from the Highland games/Celtic Festival I noticed mostly the athletes in those strength events were in their early 30's. I watched them tossing their shit across the field and concluded a few things - that is remarkable, I know better, and if you want your widow-maker couch moved, call one of those men or women.

For sure some things came and went from that house over the years, but not many! It was a bit like an above ground time capsule. A four bedroom house - which included a fifth living space that one of my grandmother's lived in for twenty years after her husband passed. There was multiple generations represented in the stuff there - including things from grandma's parents (I think). I was adopted as a child into this family so I had minimal interest and therefore knowledge, of the complexities of their lineage. When all was said and done everything was cleared from that house except one couch and chair. Oh how we tried - unfortunately it had the leprosy of furnishing, a floral pattern, perfectly good furniture otherwise. The thrift store arrived for a pre-arranged pickup, took one look at the couch and chair and flatly refused it. I'm in a small condo so I certainly don't need it! In fact the lazy-boy recliner love seat I have will not be replace any time soon, if ever. Frankly I think I'll suggest it be thrown in the crematorium with me stretched out on it and we both can enjoy a ceremonious departure!

So though it offends my sensibilities the couch and chair ended up furnishing the land fill. I did my best, out of a very well furnished house, that was all that was left over - with the exception of some stuff the new owners wanted. Everything was given away to friends and their extended family and a few charities in order to honour the life of my parents and their willingness to be of service to others and my feeling compelled to "reduce, reuse, recycle." Out of that house much of the street community may well now have new wardrobes, the food bank was given a boost (and some "Boost") a group home was given a multitude of items for their fundraiser - to purchase a "house dog" and establish a bank account for food and vet bills. To me this was far superior to the oft suggested "have a garage sale" or put the items on "Used Victoria" - my time is worth more to me than to spend it fielding phone calls from people that want to look at something and then don't show up and when they do, to either the garage sale or in response to ads, they want to grind you so that when all is said and done your lucky if you off-set the cost of gas spent doing all the running around.

This weekend will mark my last visit to the house I grew up in - the house that was the culmination of my parents life work. I will pick up a vacuum cleaner that remained behind for clean-up. Until now I have had one of those electric brooms - or whatever they call them, in truth it sucks (but not very well!) I will leave my keys behind and walk away. I have been blessed to have had the time to go through the house piece by piece and had the joy of bringing the gardens back to their full splendor and to see the spring majesty unveiled one last time.

The journey has been one of spiritual archaeology for me - while I might not have unearthed skeletons from the closets, I am doing everything in my power to heal and reclaim all of myself that which was lost, surrendered, was taken or was abandoned in that house. Toward the end of next month I will sing two songs at the Unity Spiritual community gathering, both from movies I was taken to in my youth - one, Edelweiss (from the Sound of Music) the other "Born Free" these songs touch and move me deeply and speak to me of freedom. The young boy that lived in that house could not have possibly allowed the vulnerability of public performance, let alone the possibility of becoming emotional while publicly performing - my aging being wishes to welcome him home. From this point forward we will walk together, frankly I've been lost without him, he is everything that makes life worth living. He never should have been exiled, abandoned and ostracized for who he was, least of all by me.

So then, there is much to forgive and then again, perhaps nothing at all - I now bring love to all that was, in order to be here now, in love and to then live from love everlasting.